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Golden Threads & My Chinatown

Start Date 14 March 2003
End Date 12 October 2003
Venue Powerhouse Museum
Location Sydney, Australia
Curator Jennifer Kwok

Drawn from local museum collections in regional New South Wales, Golden Threads: the Chinese in regional New South Wales 1850-1950 looked at the lives and contributions of Chinese-Australians in rural areas and country towns between 1850 and 1950. With the use of objects, historical photographs, documents and people’s stories, the exhibition showed the diversity and depth of Chinese history and heritage in New South Wales.

My Chinatown explored the social life of Sydney’s Chinatown, based on historical family stories from the 1880s to present day. These stories were explored through rare photos, films, costumes, banners and other family heirlooms from Sydney’s Chinese community.

The exhibition, was curated by Jennifer Kwok from the Asia-Australia Arts Centre, provides intimate recollections of what it was like to be Chinese at every level of society in Australia – from the Dion family whose early ‘motor service’ became the Wollongong Bus Company, to the Pang family who ran the Modern China Café in George Street, Sydney, one of the best known Chinese restaurants in the 1950s.

A focal point of My Chinatown was the annual Chinese Dragon ball, a major social event and fundraiser for Sydney’s Chinese community through most of the 20th century. A collage of photographs showed the ball in its heyday with the crowning of the Dragon Princess and the Debutantes who danced the night away at The Trocedero, a grand ballroom in Sydney’s George Street.